PHARMACY

HHS awards contracts for speedy flu identification test

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON If the world ever faced an avian influenza pandemic, how would doctors distinguish it from the seasonal flu?

Health and human services department secretary Mike Leavitt announced Thursday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had awarded $12.9 million in contracts to two pharmaceutical firms for the development of tests that could distinguish the common flu from the lethal H5N1 form within three hours.

The two companies are San Diego-based Nanogen, and Gaithersburg, Md.-based Meso Scale Diagnostics, each of which received about $6.5 million for the contracts. The contracts provide funding of up to $10.4 million for Nanogen and $12.1 million for Meso Scale Diagnostics for further developments up to three years.

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Mass. approves $1 billion for state life sciences industry

BY Drew Buono

BOSTON The Massachusetts Senate has approved a $1 billion dollar bill designed to help development in the state’s life sciences industry, according to the Boston Globe.

The House passed the bill on Wednesday, which was followed by the Senate’s 31 to 7 vote in favor of approving the bill, a central piece of Governor Deval Patrick’s agenda.

The governor expects to sign the bill Monday, said his spokeswoman, Becky Deusser. Lawmakers are hoping to trumpet the legislation at an international biotechnology conference next week in San Diego.

Proponents of the bill said in Senate debate that the bill would boost the state’s economy while developing life-saving treatments. “This isn’t just for one industry. This will have an enormous impact over a longer run,” said Senator Harriette Chandler, a Worcester Democrat. She said the bill would also have an “absolutely revolutionary” impact on healthcare.

Senate minority leader Richard Tisei told members that the bill was an example of “pork barrel spending. …I just remind you that it’s the taxpayers that are paying. … It’s taxpayers’ money, it doesn’t grow on trees.”

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nFinanSe raises $10.7 million in securities sale

BY Drew Buono

TAMPA, Fla. The prepaid and gift card company nFinanSe has raised $10.7 million through the issuance of almost 1.5 million share of its common stock, about 4 million shares of its Series C Convertible Preferred stock and warrants to purchase over 2.6 million shares of its common stock.

Each share of the Series C Convertible Preferred Stock is convertible into one share of the company’s common stock. Both the Series C Convertible Preferred Stock and the common stock were sold at the purchase price of $2.00 per share. The warrants entitle holders to purchase shares of common stock at an exercise price of $2.30 per share.

In addition, the nFinanSe has closed on its previously announced $15.5 million accounts receivable line of credit with certain institutional investors and shareholders of the company, including Ballyshannon Partners, an affiliate of one of its directors. This line of credit will be used solely to support the company’s reloadable prepaid and gift cards at retail store locations.

Jerry Welch, chairman and chief executive officer, said, “The prepaid card industry is a rapidly growing and very dynamic sector of the U.S. economy. This financing, which will provide the company with over $26 million of capital, enhances our financial condition, strengthens our balance sheet and helps position us to aggressively pursue market share in the prepaid card marketplace.”

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